In Studio A with

Winning the 2011 Thelonious Monk Competition rocketed jazz pianist Kris Bowers to fame in jazz circles and earned him gigs with the likes of Marcus Miller, Jose Jones and even Kanye West.

While many of his colleagues fall prey to the temptation to focus on technique to the exclusion of expression, Bowers leverages his interest in film scoring to keep him emotionally connected. “Music is all about storytelling,” he said. “Your job is to connect emotion to sound.”

Bowers stopped by Studio A for a special performance and a chat with fellow jazz performer Michael Thurber about his musical journey, his new album and his work as a film score composer.


 

 

Twenty-nine years ago, cellist Zuill Bailey experienced what he called his “first awakening” at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

“It was my first real adventure ..” he said. “I was surrounded by people who were like me, and it was the first time I felt a sense of community.”

Since that awakening, it is not enough for Bailey to simply perform: he’s now just as active off stage, carving time out of his busy solo schedule to serve as an artistic director, clinician and classical music advocate. “I’m enjoying so many aspects of life in music because of this torch, the cello,” he said.

Between rehearsals with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra this summer, Bailey joined Christopher Gruits in Classical IPR’s Studio A for a special performance and a discussion of his call to give back to his community.


 

 

Chris Thile is living his childhood dream. At the age of two he asked for a mandolin; by age five, he was taking lessons; as a teenager, he mastered every song on Bela Fleck and the Flecktones’ album.

Thile and banjoist Fleck performed together for the first time at a bluegrass festival when Thile was 14. Since that day, the duo has collaborated countless times, culminating with a weeklong duo tour this summer. “It’s remarkably comfortable for us to play together,” Fleck said.

The duo stopped by Studio A this summer to chat with host Aaron Selbig about their unlikely paths to stardom and the unique “musical dialect” that connects them.

 

 


 

Richard Goode knows Ludwig van Beethoven better than most living people.

Heralded as “one of today’s leading interpreters of classical and romantic music,” pianist Richard Goode is one of only a handful of pianists to complete the project of recording all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. “You get to know them almost as people,” Goode said of the sonatas. Through the sonatas, Goode has also gotten a glimpse into Beethoven himself.

Goode joined IPR in Studio A for a discussion about what Beethoven means to the musical world—and to him personally.

 


Some critics may say that jazz is becoming irrelevant.

Bill Sears knows better. Sears is the Director of Jazz Studies at Interlochen Arts Academy and has spent over 30 years as an educator and performer, playing alongside some of the biggest names in jazz. Raised on the big band music of his parents’ youth, Sears began playing jazz in 1968 and hasn’t stopped since. 

Sears sat down with Studio A host Kate Botello to discuss the communal nature of jazz, its importance in American culture and his calling to share jazz with the next generation.

  

What do you think of when you consider the harp? Angels, chords and soft strumming? These are exactly the stereotypes that Joan Holland, instructor of harp at Interlochen Arts Academy, hopes to correct.

“I want people to realize we’re also capable of playing melodies and great rhythms,” she said.

Holland shares the harp’s versatility, her musical inspirations, and her love of teaching with host Nancy Deneen in this installment of Studio A.


String quintet Sybarite5 is atypical in many ways.

The classically trained musicians do not limit their repertoire to the traditional works of the masters, but also embrace new music, extended techniques and popular rock tunes. Sybarite5’s five-player format and openness to experimentation make them one of the most flexible and dynamic ensembles in today’s instrumental music scene.

Studio A’s Kate Botello sat down with the ensemble to discuss new music and how they’ve forged a unique path in a traditional field.


 

Few vocal ensembles can boast existence—much less relevance—more than 50 years after their founding. The King’s Singers can boast both.

Founded in 1964, the group is committed to keeping choral tradition alive and is recognized as one of the world’s premier vocal ensembles. Through popular tunes and traditional voicing, The King’s Singers balance 21st-century relevance with traditional artistry.

Studio A host Nancy Deneen sat down with the ensemble to discuss the group’s “maverick spirit” and how a choral ensemble can survive and thrive in today’s competitive music business.


40 Years of the String Orchestra at Interlochen

Jul 1, 2016
Interlochen Center for the Arts

After dedicating 40 years to Interlochen, David Holland decided to compile a treasury of performances by the String Orchestra, an ensemble he founded and directed from 1973-2013.  

Listen to the interview, including a performance of Vaughan William's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, here: 

For more information click here

Jazz icon Bob James will giving the American Premiere of his First Piano Concerto with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra in Corson Auditorium on Saturday, June 4.

TSO Music Director and Conductor Kevin Rhodes was at the helm of the World Premiere of the concerto with the Tokyo Philharmonic.

IPR's Kate Botello sat down with the Grammy-winning composer to talk about the concerto and his incredible life in music.  


Ana Cuba

On June 5, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra and Dance Company will perform at David Geffen Hall in NYC as part of the NY Phil Biennial. Described as “one of the most celebrated and sought-after classical composers of the last decade,” (The Guardian)  composer Nico Muhly was on campus to work with students in the Orchestra on his piece "So Far, So Good" which will also feature choreography by Christopher Williams performed by the students of the Dance Company.

Interlochen Arts Academy

On June 5, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra and Dance Company will perform at David Geffen Hall in NYC as part of the NY Phil Biennial. Christopher Rountree is a young American conductor and composer committed to bringing contemporary music to a broader audience.  He will be conducting the Orchestra for the Biennial in June and has visited campus a number of times to work with the students in preparation for the performance.


Interlochen Arts Academy

  On June 5, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra will perform at Lincoln Center for the New York Philharmonic biennial. Between now and then, the composers, choreographer and guest conductor will be working with students here at Interlochen, preparing the program for their trip to New York. 

This week we talked to composer Hannah Lash, who was on campus to work with students on her newly commissioned piece Chaconnes​.

Jonatan Myhre Jørgensen in rehearsal for the upcoming NY Phil Bienn
Interlochen Arts Academy

On June 5, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra will perform at Lincoln Center for the New York Philharmonic biennial. Between now and then, the composers, choreographer and guest conductor will be working with students here at Interlochen, preparing the program for their trip to New York. 

This week we feature Jonatan Myhre Jørgensen, one of six students from the Interlochen Arts Academy Dance Company chosen to premiere Christopher Williams' The Good So Far for the Biennal.

On June 5, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra will perform at Lincoln Center for the New York Philharmonic biennial.  The biennial is a festival dedicated to new music and the students will not be playing standard repertoire. There are two world premieres commissioned for the performance and two NY premieres all by young American composers.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's acting principal clarinetist takes the stage at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

John Bruce Yeh is a 39-year veteran of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a founding member of the New York New Music Ensemble, a Grammy winner and more. A native of Los Angeles, he began studying the clarinet at age 6 and spent two years at Juilliard, from 1975 to 1977, before leaving to assume the role of solo bass clarinetist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra., and, two years later, assistant principal and solo E-flat clarinet. 

 

The subject of the Oscar‐nominated documentary Jules at eight, Julian Lage, now 27, has been performing and recording with vibraphone legend Gary Burton since the age of 12, holding a seat once occupied by the likes of Kurt Rosenwinkel and Pat Metheny. He stopped by IPR's Studio A, to chat and play a few songs with his trio.

Live from Studio A: Barbara Furtuna

Nov 13, 2015

The Corsican ensemble, Barbara Furtuna (“Cruel Fate”), is a polyphonic group of four men mostly performing a capella, or occasionally with other instruments or ensembles. Even though the group still finds its inspiration in the island's oldest traditions, it is now also distinguished by its own creations, and offers a music that speaks to contemporary longings.

The Eero Saxophone Quartet will perform tonight at the Dendrinos Chapel and Recital Hall at 7:30pm.
The Ann Arbor based group will also be taking part in a student workshop with the Interlochen Arts Academy sax ensemble this afternoon.

The recital is free and open to the public. For more information call 231-276-7800

Live from Studio A: Jazz Pianist Bob James

Jun 17, 2015
A CD release event is scheduled for June 27 at the Milliken Auditorium featuring jazz pianist Bob James.
Tim Burke

Jazz pianist Bob James stopped by Studio A to play a little music and talk about his upcoming CD Release and Interview event at the Milliken Auditorium on June 27, at 7:30pm. 

Bob James Live at the Milliken Auditorium was recorded in concert with the Bob James Quartet on May 3, 2014. Interestingly, James himself didn't know the performance was going to be recorded. 

Singing his way across America

Apr 14, 2015
Folk singer Adam Miller plays at the Peninsula Community Library tonight in Traverse City.
Daniel Wanschura

Folk singer Adam Miller has been fascinated with storytelling, history, and music for a long time. 

His career started as a sort of experiment 20 years ago. He wanted to see if he could really make a living in the 21st Century, traveling and singing songs about times past. 

Now, each year Miller logs about 70,000 miles traveling to different schools and libraries across the United States.

This year, NPR’s From the Top commissioned a new musical work from Interlochen Arts Academy Alum Michael Thurber. It's designed to feature the next generation of classical musicians. 

It's an all-Interlochen line up on the show this week, featuring excerpts from the concerto performed in Corson Auditorium with the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. This show also includes solos from several current students.

Jeremy Kittel is a seriously well rounded violinist and musician; he’s a master of classical, jazz, Scottish and Irish fiddle, Bluegrass… you name it, he does it!

Jeremy recently came to Interlochen Arts Academy to work with some students before a Valentine’s concert in Suttons Bay, and brought his bandmates Joshua Pinkham (mandolin) and Quinn Bachand (guitar) with him to Studio A.
(Learn more about the band, and our Studio A visit, by clicking "Read More.")

You've probably listened to some tunes while making dinner - but how often have you based the menu directly on the music? IAA Band Conductor Dr. Matthew Schlomer and Black Star Farms Chef Jonathan Dayton put their heads together for an innovative project that does just that.

"Tone to Table," a collaboration between Interlochen Arts Academy and Black Star Farms, is an upcoming event exploring the connections between food and music - compositional "ingredients" taking on new depth as they relate to one another.

Chef Dayton, along with Black Star's Stephanie Lee Wiitala, came together with Dr. Schlomer to create an event based on the interplay of music and food. On November 20th, diners can experience that exchange, with music provided by IAA, and food by Black Star Farms. The menu has a, "Landscapes," theme, and follows many layers of that idea - everything from outdoor landscapes to landscapes within - what Dr. Schlomer calls, "ideal urges," and, "primal urges."

We were treated to a performance and discussion of those, "primal urges," in Studio A. IAA Flute Instructor Nancy Stagnitta was the soloist, with a group of IAA percussion students (Joshua Pearlmutter, Stephen Karukas, Adriano Macciocchi and Miyu Morita), performing samples of Andre Jolivet's, "Suite en Concert." The piece is based on ancient sounds and ideas - flute and drum are the oldest musical instruments known to man. Chef Dayton discussed how the primal sound and differing textures influenced his dish, from ingredients to  plating.

It was a fun, interesting discussion (we even talked about how Chef Dayton changed a sauce because it was too, "creamy," for its accompanying composition), interspersed with fascinating music, but be warned: it might make you hungry!


Guitarist Bret Hoag (pictured, left) and flutist Jeff Zook (pictured, right) are colleagues and studio neighbors at Oakland University in Detroit. The two started out as mutual admirers, and ended up touring together.

Jeff enjoys finding challenging new arrangements for them to play. Bret enjoys telling Jeff to quit finding pieces written for the piano ("I keep throwing him piano parts," says Jeff, "and he keeps throwing them back."). Somehow, no matter the original instruments, they always come up with something compelling that works for both of them.

Bret and Jeff were in town for an "Around the World," themed concert at the Oliver Art Center, in conjunction with Chamber Music North. They treated us to three pieces Live in Studio A, including a Libby Larsen piece that Jeff performed on a flute d'amore. We discussed its eerie sound, and how the instrument had recently enraptured a group during a performance. "I felt like I just had everyone in the palm of my hand," said Jeff. I told him, "That's why it's called the Flute of Love." He replied, "Exactly, baby!"

Listen to the three pieces, below: the first movement of Piazzolla's Histoire du Tango, the Libby Larsen, and a piece from Enrique Granados originally written for piano, but transcribed for guitar (it seems Bret has a point about that whole piano-pieces-for-guitar thing, there.) 


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